For many, purchasing a car is one of the most significant transactions an individual will ever make. There is so much to carefully consider as this vehicle will be in one’s possession for years to come. With a purchase with this amount of importance, fear can often be an emotion, as the entire process can be overwhelming, especially when this could be someone’s first car. Whether this is your first rodeo or not in the vehicle purchasing world, knowing what to look out for can make the journey a lot smoother. This article will cover five tips to help you through this purchase.
Balance your needs, wants and lifestyle
When looking to purchase a vehicle, the options can seem endless as there are always so many factors to consider. Makes, models, years and all sorts of other features come into play. Making a list of what you need, want, and lifestyle impacts how you will help narrow your options in selecting the suitable investment.
When considering the vehicle’s features that you will purchase, factors such as seating and storage capacity, mechanical or performance specifications, and any special considerations like height restrictions, towing capacities and fuel mileage help narrow it down. Getting a base understanding of where to start from and what requirements need to be met in purchasing the vehicle will eliminate so many options and make the selection listless crowded.
Next is to consider the wants and nice to have features of the car. These features in your list can contain anything from heated seats, navigation and stereo options, interior fabrics like leather or suede, and all sorts of lovely little bells and whistles. Remember to keep in mind that these options do not make or break and that if they are a must-have feature, consider adding them to the needs list to make sure that these features will be in your possession. A list of additional vehicle options are listed below:
- Safety feature extras such as traction control, lane departure warning, backup camera and lane assist
- Comfort & assistive add on’s like cruise control, power windows, power seats, power mirrors, outlets for cell phone charging or other devices, cup holders.
- Seating style options like bench, bucket or sports seats, split, 4, 5, 7 passenger, seat material, heated seats, electronic vs. manual adjustments, armrests or even massage options in the premium levels
- Engine & performance specifications: Engine size, transmission, horsepower, towing, fuel economy
- Sound and display feature: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, touch screen, iPhone/Android compatible, surround sound, CD player, navigation system or extra screens in other car sectors.
- Extended warranty protection: Warranty length, deductible, length of roadside assistance & courtesy transportation coverage
Once you have created a list of needs and wants for the vehicle you are looking to purchase, it will better understand where you will begin your search.
A significant factor in the purchasing process is the price and what you can afford on a month-to-month basis. Therefore, even though you may have a list of extra bells and whistles or even what is necessary for your desired vehicle, adjustments will need to be made if you can not afford those specific requirements.
You have options for leasing a vehicle that should be considered. Taking a look into short-term or long-term finance contracts or utilizing a low-interest line of credit from your bank as opposed to signing up for a higher interest loan through the dealership is a choice to consider as well.
Others looking for a work vehicle that can classify the use of the car under a business should consider leasing as it is a more cost and tax-effective option. Depending upon your credit history, you may be able to negotiate a low-interest personal loan from your bank as well.
When purchasing a vehicle, having already done some prior research is a great option. Doing this homework and comparing all possibilities in an apple to apple format will keep everything more organized. In addition, this process will allow you to get a better understanding of similar cars from brand to brand. It’s good only to compare vehicles in the same classification; that way, you can better differentiate the options. For example, there is no point in comparing a sports car to a mid-sized SUV. Set categories for yourself with two to three cars in mind and stick to them.
Consulting through consumer reports and finding vehicle ratings and honest reviews is a great start. Then, checking video reviews online and articles and weighing out all options will make the process smoother. You will save time and eliminate cars from your search before heading into a dealership.
Overall, making sure that this prior research on the select vehicles you are looking at will help you save time and allow you to have a base knowledge when in communication with a sales representative. In addition, knowing price points based on trim levels from brand to brand is key to negotiating a better price in these discussions.
Inspect and test the car
Entering a dealership can be pretty overwhelming at times. With so many options to look at, prior research will allow you to narrow down what you are interested in and help make the best decision for purchasing. It is essential to take the time spent in a dealership to present all features and specifications and get a feel for the car.
To start, ask the sales representative to present your desired vehicle to you properly. This will allow you to gain information about every tiny detail, ask questions, and clarify any uncertainties. Doing online research beforehand is beneficial to get a base understanding but physically seeing the car in person is a great way to form a reasonable opinion on the vehicle.
Make sure to test drive a car because this is the most critical factor when purchasing a vehicle. Spending time in the car, getting a good feel for the drive, and testing out all features will be a great way to know if this is the car for you. A vehicle can check off everything that you are looking for on paper, but nothing can compare to taking the vehicle on the open roads and seeing for yourself if this is the vehicle you will want to be driving for years to come. Also, make yourself comfortable and see if the seating and visibility are suitable for you.
A final note is always to confirm that the vehicle you are being presented and test driving is one of the same trim levels. Make sure the sales representative allows you to drive the same trim level you are interested in, to form an accurate opinion. There is no point in driving a car with fully loaded options and different engine specifications if you are looking at a base model or vice versa. It can be very frustrating to invest in a vehicle that does not live up to your expectations.
Having a good relationship with the dealership and the sales representative you communicate with is key in negotiating a price for the vehicle you are considering. A good salesman or saleswoman will do their best to gain your trust and do everything they can to support you as they will one day want you to shop with them again and create an excellent trusting relationship.
To prepare yourself for negotiations, consider three rules:
1. Do your homework
2. Set the rules.
3. Hold your ground.
Doing your homework and knowing what you are purchasing is a great way to try and get the cost down. If you know car package trim levels, model variances and brand specialties well, it demonstrates to the sales representative that you are prepared to strike a fair deal that meets your needs.
Setting the rules with the representatives is vital as they may try to upsell you on more features. For example, suppose you clearly state that you are looking for a specific vehicle and trim. In that case, they probably will not show you options that fall outside of that or offer alternatives for a competitive price.
Lastly, holding your ground is crucial. Respectfully, always remind the dealership that you have a budget and select vehicles to stick with and that you will not be steered away from these options. This tactic will ultimately keep the entire process less confusing and allow you to make better judgement calls when making a potential purchase.